Beginning With Moses

Our family sat together this evening and found this gracious message from Dr. Steve Lawson. What an incredible testimony of the grace of God that points clearly and unequivocally to the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ in the entire Scriptures.

Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment – Quote

What contentment is not opposed to

the-rare-jewel-of-christian-contentment-by-jeremiah-burroughs

1. It is not opposed to a due sense of affliction. God gives His people leave to be sensible of what they suffer. Christ does not say, “Do not count as a cross what is a cross”; He says, “Take up your cross daily” (Luke 9:23).

2. It is not opposed to making in an orderly manner our moan to God and to our friends.

3. It is not opposed to all lawful seeking for help in different circumstances, or to endeavoring simply to be delivered out of present afflictions by the use of lawful means—it is but my duty. God is thus far mercifully indulgent to our weakness, and He will not take it ill at our hands if by earnest and importunate prayer we seek Him for deliverance until we know His good pleasure in the matter. Certainly seeking thus for help with such submission and holy resignation of spirit to be delivered when God wills, as God wills, and how God wills — this is not opposed to the quietness that God requires in a contented spirit.

— Jeremiah Burroughs

“Homeschooling From a Biblical Worldview” with Israel Wayne

20130829-084823.jpgOn August 25, 2013, I had the privilege to interview noted homeschool speaker and author, Israel Wayne. He is an outspoken proponent for the homeschool movement and teaches Christians that home education should be considered an extension of our God given parental duties. Mr. Wayne also states that homeschooling should not be done so that we can produce smarter and more conservative minded children than their government school counterparts. Rather, homeschooling should be done for the express purpose of cultivating a biblical worldview in our children, leading them to the blood stained cross of Jesus Christ and bringing God the glory He is due. Our interview was aired during the Cross Encounters Radio program and can also be heard at Sermon Audio by clicking on the link below. I pray you take the time to listen to this interview. Whether you are just considering homeschooling or you are an experienced pro, I believe Israel Wayne’s insights will be a blessing to you.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=827131237287

Tragedy in My Own Neighborhood

dead body outline Last week, a terrible tragedy struck in two homes just a stone’s throw from my own house. As of the writing of this article, one man is currently in custody on nineteen criminal charges, including the murder of five people. When I first heard of this terrible crime, my first thought, in fact my overriding thought the entire week, has been for the safety of my family. While that is a right and good thing to be concerned for, I have to confess, I have given little thought to the soul of the man who committed the murders. I have given thought to his crime, to the court system that will soon try and likely convict him, and the to application of justice against one who would harm innocent victims in this manner. Yet, at a time like this, I believe it is right that, as Christians, we should very concerned about the judgment of God which rests on the soul of this man.

A similar tragedy occurred less than two years ago in another city near my home when a man entered a restaurant and opened fire. Several people were hurt and killed, including three National Guard soldiers. In the wake of that tragedy, a man had responded to an online news article by stating he hoped the murderer would never be forgiven by God and would forever burn in hell. The anger in that statement shook me to the core. It is right for us to feel a righteous anger at the unjust murder of any person. But for someone to wish the eternal, conscious torment of Hell on a person startled me. I believe the author of that comment did not understand his own sinfulness and the necessity of God’s justice to be applied against himself one day. Had he understood the righteousness and holiness of God, he would have seen his own anger and hatred for what it was, a sin against the God who he wished would cause the murder to be eternally condemned. I wrote my thoughts on that tragedy then, asking those who profess Christ as Lord to consider our reactions to such terrible crimes and to pray for those who commit them.

I want to be careful not to simply repeat what I wrote then; however, certain themes and principles bear repetition. When I heard of the horrendous nature of this crime, I could not help but feel anger at the loss of life and pouring of such evil near my home. Yet, according the word of God, all of us are wicked in the eyes of God. Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Every person in this world possesses a heart of wickedness, born under the curse of the original sin of our federal representative, Adam. When he rebelled against God in the garden, all of Adam’s descendants were forever tainted with sin. Thus, all that we can conceive of and do is affected by our self serving, sinful nature. Nothing we can do of ourselves will ever be “good.”

In fact, the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3: 9-18:

“What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.
The venom of asps is under their lips.
Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Quoting from the Psalms, Paul makes the case that there is nothing about us that is good in the eyes of God. Even when we claim we believe in God and are trying to obey Him, Paul makes it clear that none of us actually are seeking after the true God. Because of our sin nature, we in fact create idolatrous versions of God. We seek to worship a god of our own creation, one who either will not take our sin seriously, or one which will allow us to do some sort of work to personally make up for it. Neither is the true God, but is in fact a god of self. We are worshiping our own perceived innate goodness, thus proving we are the very wicked sinners who Paul is writing about. Outside the regenerative work of Jesus Christ, we cannot truly seek after and worship God. Therefore, we will pursue the wicked desires of our own heart while professing our own self righteousness along the way.

Matthew 5:21-22 records the words of Jesus who said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Chris Himself declared that a person who harbors anger and insults another person will be judged the same as one who commits murder. In other words, whenever you have been angry at or felt hatred for another human being, God has seen you as wicked a sinner as the man who killed five people in my town. That is applicable to each and every one of us, myself included. That should terrify us. When I am horrified that my neighborhood was rocked by such evil, I should also remember that, in the eyes of God, I am as terrible a sinner as the one who committed the evil. God judges the thoughts and intents of the heart, not just the actions.

This brings me back to my original statement. When I thought of the tragedy committed by this man, I gave no thought to his eternal state before the Lord. I focused solely on the crime and the danger to my family. As a Christian, I know that I have sinned in the areas of anger and hatred. Yet, God in His mercy has forgiven me through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I rightly deserve His wrath, but Christ took the righteous judgment of God upon Himself for me at the cross. He suffered and died for the sins of my heart. He was buried, yet rose again, defeating death and granting me eternal life. If I know that I was deserving of such condemnation, but was forgiven, then I must desire to see even the most vile and wicked murderer to receive the precious gift of the gospel.

Does this mean that I should not be concerned about the terrible events in my neighborhood, and shouldn’t bother taking steps to protect my family. Certainly not. Knowing that I live in the midst of a wicked and perverse people, wisdom dictates that I be aware of the dangers that surround us and take to the proper steps to keep my family from harm. But I must also desire to bring the precious gospel to that same wicked and perverse people. I was a wicked sinner just as they were, yet I was saved by the blood of Christ. If I ever believe that somehow the crimes of someone are beyond the saving grace of Jesus, or that, because that criminal was so vicious, I simply could never share the gospel with them, then I prove myself an even greater sinner than the murderer. I write this to encourage my brethren to look at the tragedies that surround you in light of the gospel. Certainly, we can feel fear, sadness and even righteous anger. But never let us see ourselves as better than those who committed these crimes. Let us pray for them and even go to great lengths to bring the life saving gospel to their perishing souls.

It’s About The Cross

While many will discuss whether Christians should even participate in Christmas celebrations (which is discussion worth having) one thing thing we all agree upon is that almost 2,000 years ago Christ took on human flesh and was born into this world. The Incarnation is truly one of the greatest miracles of God. Divinity took on humanity, He became like us. But He did not do this for a parlor trick, or because He was bored. Christ became man so that He could die for us. God took on flesh so that He could be executed in our place, to pay the price for our sins. Then He rose three days later, proving His power of death and giving a promise of eternal life to those who would repent and trust in Him.

As we consider the season of Christmas, and whether we should or should not celebrate it, let us dwell on the miracle of the Incarnation. Let us be in awe of His death and resurrection. And let us share with everyone, “It’s about the cross.”

A Word of Encouragement

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen (1 Timothy 1:12-17 ESV)

The words of the Apostle Paul written to Timothy should serve as great encouragement to those of us who have been saved by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. As I read those words, I was reminded that, despite my wretched sinfulness, despite having no good thing in me that would cause God to desire me, He demonstrated His love for me in that He sent Jesus Christ to redeem me.

Like Paul, we should see ourselves as the chief of sinners. Daily we should remind ourselves that our very sins put Jesus on the cross. That it took the shed blood of the Son of God Himself to pay the price we owe to God. Yet He did so willingly, of His own accord, so that He might bring glory to the Father. That in doing so, He might demonstrate His mercy by redeeming vile, wretched, rebellious sinners for His use.

In fact, it is Paul’s statement that “…Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example…” really caused me to stop and think. Jesus Christ saved us to be examples of His perfect patience to those He will save. In other words, when we are saved by God, we are cleaned up for His usefulness and put on display as His craftmanship. When God saved me, I was a rebellious sinner, even though some thought I was a “nice guy.” Yet, I lied, cheated, blasphemed and other sins I do not wish to mention. Those that knew me then would know I was not really all that “nice.” Yet, today, God’s sanctifying work in me is put on display by Him for one reason, to show the perfect patience in transforming a vile sinner into a tool useful for His work.

That is what God does when He saves us, He transforms us for His use! If you are anything like me, it is very easy to see all the faults, failings and sins that we still struggle with while we are in this flesh. We may even begin to wonder if we are truly saved because of that. Yet, here in Paul’s pastoral epistle, we see that the issue is not about us and what we can do, but in God’s finished work of salvation and his ongoing work of sanctification. It is not about us being able to say what we have conquered in our flesh, it is about God being able to boast in his sanctifying work alone! We weren’t saved so we could claim there was something just awesome about ourselves, which there never was, but so that we could be a light, a signpost pointing others to the very Savior they didn’t even know they needed, Jesus Christ.

I encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ, if you struggle with your walk, if you have trouble in finding assurance, look the this passage by Paul. You were saved and are being sanctified for one reason, to be evidence of the amazing work of your Savior. Find peace and comfort in knowing that “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

Please Pray for Michael

When I am not busy working, raising my family or blogging, God allows me to share the gospel with people in evangelistic endeavors. One such effort was inspired by Tony Miano of Living Waters (who has recently been blogged about here and here). In the picture you see here, I constructed a cross with the words “Are You Ready?” on it. The original intent of Mr. Miano had been to use such a cross in his town as yet another tool to share the gospel. Many other evangelists, including myself, made similar crosses and a small but growing group has been taking the gospel to the streets in this unique manner. But the point of this article is not to brag on our evangelism technique.

Meet Michael. He is the point of this article. I met Michael today on a street corner in my home town where I was out with the cross trying to evangelize. As you can see, Michael spends a lot of time walking the roads and sleeping in the outdoors. When I saw Michael walking down the street towards me, I prepared to hand him a gospel tract, but I doubted he would be willing to stop and talk with me. I was quite surprised when he stopped directly in front of me and asked “Are you a crosswalker?” I explained to him that I was attempting to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people. What followed next was a half hour conversation where Michael explained he had become disillusioned with the “physical processes of life” and was looking to determine if he was something more than a biological machine that simply existed for itself and then died.

I was blessed to be able to share with Michael that he had been created for God’s glory. That because of his sin, Michael stood guilty before God and would be condemned to Hell. Yet, God in His mercy, poured His wrath out on Jesus Christ so that the righteous law of God could be satisfied. I explained that through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, Michael could receive salvation and spend eternity with the God who created him. I explained that God created him so that God Himself could be glorified by redeeming him out of his sinful state. While Michael did not immediately repent and place his faith in Christ, he stated he was very glad to hear that redemption was possible.

After talking for a half hour, Michael and I had to part ways. It was such a blessing to talk with Michael. It was a reminder of how desperately the world needs to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, that forgiveness is indeed available to wretched and vile sinners. So often we get caught up in discerning false religions and teachers, or we get caught up in the political machinations of the government to shut down the church’s influence, or even in discussing the watering down of the Word that is going on in evangelicalism. And while those can be worthwhile endeavors, the first and primary effort of every Christian is to share the gospel. The souls of people like Michael depend on our daily obedience to the command of Christ to go forth and preach the gospel to every creature. Let us not fail in this, but let us make every possible effort to share gospel with people so that souls might be saved.

Please pray for Michael. Pray that God would keep him safe as he continues to walk the roads and pray that God would lead him to true repentance and faith. Pray that we will one day meet Michael in Heaven.